Wednesday, February 18, 2009

At least 12 dead in Herat, say officials (Updated)

From Reuters:

U.S. Air Strike Kills 12 Afghan Civilians, Police Say

HERAT, Feb 18 (Reuters) -- U.S. forces killed at least one child, video footage obtained by Reuters on February 18 showed, in an air strike in western Afghanistan that Afghan police say killed 12 civilians and U.S. forces said killed 16 militants.

Videos taken in the Gozara district of Herat Province in the aftermath of the attack on February 16 showed mangled, unrecognizable clumps of flesh -- all that remained of several people and dozens of animals killed in a tented nomad encampment. One body that was recognizable was that of a young boy.

"The information we have is 12 civilians, including six women, four men, and two children have been killed in the bombardment," General Ikramuddin Yawar, chief of police in western Afghanistan told Reuters...

Karim Khan, one of the survivors in the February 16 air raid, said aircraft started bombing the area at four in the morning. "Thirteen people from the tents and three other visitors were killed," Khan said.

The regional police chief said both civilians and militants were among those killed... (link)
Note that it seems that Karim Khan is stating there were 16 civilians killed in the incident.

Here is the US Air Force version of events:
In Afghanistan, F-15E Strike Eagles struck an encampment with guided bomb unit-38s in the Herat province. The strike targeted anti-Afghan leadership members using tactics to minimize bomb blast and prevent injury to nearby personnel not affiliated with enemy forces. (link)

On February 21, the US acknowledged killing 13 civilians and three militants following an investigation (see here). It should be remembered, however, that previous US military investigations have been of rather suspect quality. Note that the article (at previous link) reporting the Feb 21 announcement does not cite any locals' views on the finding.

February's toll:

February 5-6: US-led coalition forces in Zabul kill 6 civilians in an attack which targeted insurgents, say Afghan officials.
February 6: US-led coalition forces shoot and kill one man and wound a woman and child at a checkpoint in Khost province.
February 11: A provincial spokesman says NATO airstrikes kill four civilians in Logar province.
February 12: Five children are killed as Australian special forces battle militants while searching a house in Uruzgan province.
February 16: In Herat US forces kill 12 - 16 civilians in air attacks. An American investigation claims that 13 civilians and three militants were killed.
February 17: Two civilians in a vehicle are killed by NATO-led troops on patrol in the Maywand district of Kandahar.

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